Check this out. We've been wondering how the cancellation of the C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft would impact the Army's tactical airlift needs. While the Air Force says canning the JCA won't hurt anyone, it looks like the Army is eying the optionally-manned K-MAX helo to carry realatively small but urgent loads of cargo to remote bases.
Now, the Marines have been experimenting with using the K-MAX for this role in Afghanistan for a while now and the Army is very interested in seeing how that effort goes, according to AvWeek.
And you can bet the Army is keeping a close eye on the program. In August, the service awarded the Lockheed/Kaman team $47 million to continue work on the K-MAX program—testing was done this past fall at Ft. Benning—while wrapping up a larger study on a full range of unmanned cargo options.Very interesting.
The tests will help the service build a formal program of record for an unmanned vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability, a program which we already know Textron/AAI is very interested in. Steve Reid, the company’s senior vp and general manager for unmanned systems says that the company has signed a license agreement with Carter Aviation for a manned, four-person rotary winged asset that Textron is working on turning into an unmanned asset that the company feels “would do the cargo mission that’s being talked about” quite nicely. The Navy has also been busy with other unmanned options, including awarding Northrop Grumman a contract in September to supply twenty-eight MQ-8C Fire Scout VTOL-UAS’s (based on Bell’s 407 helicopter airframe), which the company has touted for its cargo-lugging capabilities.